When Dawn meets Dusk

Time - About 3 years ago. 1 am in the morning.

I remember being enraged. My then boyfriend and I had had a fight, which had ended in me storming out of his apartment in a fit of rage, and realising shortly after, that I had locked myself out with my handbag and keys still inside. It was like those very rare moments in life when things are going so horribly wrong that you stop reacting and become an audience to the whole idiot-fest instead. 

The argument had gotten ugly so I wasn't expecting him to start a search and rescue mission for me anytime soon. There were two locks - one on his front door that locked automatically and required a key to get in, and another guarding the lift lobby which required a separate magnetic card. When I said I had stormed out, I meant all the way out to the street so there was no way I could get back in, or head back to my own place. 

Luckily I remembered his phone number, so I headed to the guard house. There were two guards - one seated with his back towards me and another standing and facing the little window. I asked him if I could use the phone. He recognised me from my previous visits and got an inkling of the situation from my slightly smudged up mascara and frantic mutterings of abuse at every unanswered ring. I tried both my boyfriend's phone and mine but nobody picked up. If I were hulk, that would have been my moment to begin the transformation. 

"Having trouble with your guy?"

I looked up.

The security guard, a young lad in his twenties, wearing an old tweed jacket and grey worn out pants, was giving me the 'You poor thing' look. I nodded and told him what had happened. He didn't have the spare keys to help me get in, but he said he could get me through the lift lobby so I could go up to his floor and try knocking on the front door. 

So off we went. Part of me didn't want to face my boyfriend, but the more tired part of me wanted to get hold of my bag and head home to a nice shower and warm milk. He got me through the gate at the lift lobby and I took the lift to level 13 (that should have been a red flag). At this point I believed a 100% that my ordeal was over, that this was it. There was no way he wouldn't hear the knocking, except that's exactly what happened. I knocked, nay, banged against the door, called out his name for several minutes - silence. I was to find out later that my boyfriend had actually not been home then, because he was outside looking for me the whole time. Now that you have this knowledge, it should make him look like less of a villain. However at that point in time, it was almost 2 am and I was seriously beginning to worry. 

I headed back out for some air.

"What happened?"

It was the guard again. This time his companion, a scruffy looking old man was seated facing my direction, waiting for an answer. He must have been brought up to speed about this situation. 

"He can't hear the knocking I think. The doors too heavy."
"Oh dear. Wait I'll get you a seat."

He ran to get me a stool and I sat outside the guard house for the next hour talking to the two folks through the tiny window. 

"Your boyfriend is that fella, about yay high, who leaves for work real early dressed in formals right?"
"That is precisely right haha"
"Well he's funny. I mean this one time, he got trapped in the elevator and called for help and we told him it would be a while till the technician got here and he-" He looked at his older companion and together they burst out laughing.
"Well what?"
"He started crying! We could see him! It was just - oh I'm sorry - it was just so funny."

I couldn't help but laugh along with them. I was mad at the guy anyway. 

The young guard went on to tell me about how his girlfriend recently left him for another man.

"It's the worst. Absolute worst. You seem mad at your guy now but trust me, he seems like a nice bloke. He'll make up for it. Just don't leave him for this. I can't wish this pain upon anyone."

I smiled. "I am mad alright, but I'll try to work it out."

"That's the spirit! Never give up on people. You want some coffee?"

It was close to 3 am and coffee sounded like just what I needed. I nodded and saw him as he got up to take some old sachets of instant coffee out of a drawer and proceeded to heat up some water over an old electric hot plate. It seemed a little unhygienic but I didn't want to sound too arrogant and was just glad that I had someone to talk me through the night.

A coffee later, he got up and started packing his stuff.

"End of my shift, lady. It was lovely meeting you. Wish I could have helped."
"You did. Thanks for the coffee." He smiled and rode off. 

Just then a car pulled up outside the apartment and a large group of skimpily clad women got out. They, very obviously drunk, staggered towards the lift lobby. I looked at the watch - 3.20 am. Deciding to have one more go at the knocking, I headed towards the lobby, hoping I could follow these ladies in. Turned out, they had seated themselves outside the lobby. I went over and asked if anyone of them had the card to get it. It didn't seem like they understood me. 

"Hey you over there!"

One of them, sitting in a corner, heels off, wearing a green off shoulder dress barely reaching her thighs, was calling for me. She looked like she was in her mid-30s.

"Hi yes I just wanted to know if you guys had the card to get in."
"Oh the card. No no no. We're just waiting for this guy, our agent. He'll get us in. He should be here in a minute. Sit."

She pulled me down next to her. I complied. I was too tired to care.

"So what do you do for a living?" She asked
"Oh I write code. I'm a software engineer." 
"Oh my God! Really? You must be so proud! Guys!! She's an engineer!" She announced to the rest of the women and broke into her native language mid-sentence.

Then turning to me, "We are all from Philippines. We work at this club nearby. It's mainly for rich Japanese businessmen."

It made sense all of a sudden. Their attire, the drunken state, the agent. 

"Oh" I didn't know what to say.
"It's okay. I'm sorry we're all pretty drunk. They actually pay us at the club to make the guys buy us as many drinks as we can, so we always end up like this at the end of the night."

"Oh" I still didn't know what to say. Some of the girls were looking at me smiling. I felt like I shouldn't be here having this conversation but maybe it was the lack of sleep or how the preceding moments of the night had passed, I stayed. I knew she just wanted me to listen.

"You know I have a son." she continued.

"Oh?" I was genuinely surprised. 

"Yes, back in my home town. He is turning 5 this month." She quickly pulled out an old flip phone and showed me a picture of a young boy standing in a field next to an old lady. 

"That's my mother. I'm not married, so my parents are taking care of my son."

"He is adorable." I finally found my voice.

"Isn't he? You know last month when I went home I asked him what he wanted for his birthday and he said he wanted a bicycle! And I was able to save up enough so I can buy him one! I'M SO HAPPY!"

She shouted the last bit and all the girls cheered. I looked around and thought that life was so richly layered.

"Girls! Let's move!"

Their agent - a shabby looking man, wearing a black leather jacket, black jeans - had arrived with the key. I joined them as they entered the lobby. 

"You know we live on the top most floor. You should come with us. You're so sweet."

I had to draw the line there. I wasn't that sleepy.

I got off at level 13 and they shouted good byes and best of lucks at me as the lift doors closed - just what I wanted to hear before diving into a second round of knocking and calling out for my boyfriend - still no response. It was almost 4 and I have no recollection of how I felt. I don't remember feeling anything. The night had been a rollercoaster. I headed out again.

There was a small playground next to the apartment with a clear view of the street. I went and sat on one of the swings and in a few seconds, spotted my boyfriend walking towards me from the guard house. The older guard must have told him I was here, I remember thinking. 

As he walked closer, I closed my eyes and thought of the young guard making me coffee, serving it in an old cup with a broken handle, of the young woman with a son who was so happy she could afford to buy him a bicycle, of myself knocking repeatedly at the door and not hearing anything back. I felt relief from knowing that soon I would be indoors and tucked in a nice comfortable bed and life would be normal again. But I also felt grateful for having experienced the kindness of strangers. It almost felt like waking up from a dream as I opened my eyes and saw my then boyfriend standing right before me shaking his head.


I've been out of the writing game for so long, that I wonder if I still have the patience for it. What have I been doing instead you ask? Well you know life - it has a way of making time disappear.

But in all honesty, I've had many thoughts and experiences along the way that I'd like to dole out in subsequent posts. For now, I'd like to leave you with a recent sketch I drew. You can check out more @sketchremix on Instagram.

Have a lovely week!

Goodnight Seattle

The series finale that marked the end of the 11 year long fun ride that was this show - Frasier.

I've always had this habit of associating  television shows, movies, songs, books with a certain way they make me feel  - and when I think of Frasier, I think of the warm cozy apartment of Elliott Bay Towers and a strange calmness takes over me. I feel more at ease. That's why Frasier has become my go-to show for when I am  restless or anxious in life.

It was for the same reason I started re-watching the series last month and it worked - like grandma's home remedy. I was feeling less rushed and my thoughts were more structured. I devoured through the episodes till I got to the finale, which is when I noticed something for the first time.

In his farewell speech, Frasier talks of new beginnings, of taking risks...referring to his decision to move to a new city, and I couldn't help but feel the same restlessness seeping in, only this time it wasn't for myself, but for the character that I had grown to adore. I felt sad for him, scared of what might become of him, of how he might never actually experience the marital bliss that his younger brother was finally blessed with, or have the good fortune of spending his golden years amongst family and loved ones like his father.

I realized that I could never take such a leap unless life forced me to. I could never throw away the known, the familiar, the safe...for what countless possibilities were out there. Sure I would wonder, but I would  never have the courage to act.

Think of these two choices. You are well into your 60s and one quiet evening, seated on your favorite piece of furniture, sipping a hot cup of tea, you are reminiscing about the years that have gone by, all the summers, all the memories, all the people you met and you are smiling. Now would you like for those memories, happy as they are, to be like a few big blocks of events, monotonous at times but secured to a strong base, or would you like to see them as a million tiny blocks, all very eventful and thrilling but adrift in space and time ?

I'd rather pick the former and by that I mean, having the majority of one's memories about ONE place, or ONE person, having a glue to which your whole life is secured, instead of having a billion memories, each of a different person, or a different place.
This marks a big difference between the two brothers on this show as well - while Frasier had a new love interest every other episode (although always pursued with the utmost sincerity), Niles always moved from one long term relation to another, often fixating on making each of them last. What is to be noted is that they each end up with exactly what they had been working towards - Niles with a wife and a new born and Frasier with a brand new career in a brand new city - both happy with their share.

They stand for the same daunting choice every person has to make at some point in life - build upon existing memories or make new ones?

When it hits you

This Friday I went down to the Fort Canning park to watch the much awaited Merchant of Venice performed by the talented lot at the Singapore Repertory Theatre.

Aaaaaaa! Shakespeare!
People settling down with their mats and picnic baskets, it was super hot!
The case taking a bow. The play ended close to 11 pm.

It was a scintillating depiction of the classic play, with a great cast and a wonderful ambiance save for the excessively dry and sultry weather at the beginning of the queue-up. My friend and I reached the venue an hour before the show time, and had to wait outside the park gate for over 30 minutes along with thousands of other Shakespeare enthusiasts. Here's how the conversation went:

Friend: Gawd it's hot!
Me: I know! Wish you'd have sneaked some beer from your office..
Friend: Yeah, hope they're selling some inside. I wish I'd picked a different day, school night's always crowded 
Me: Oh well. Look at them, taking selfies, posing like idiots, then they'll rush to upload it somewhere and go, 'look at me! I'm so classy and popular' It's such a wannabe age
Friend: Hahah yeah I can't remember when I was that age..I mean we're only 23 so technically it hasn't been that long 
Me: Right..but it's so true like as you grow older, the younger lot starts to look more and more lame
Friend: And you wanna say to them, "prance around all you want now! but wait till you start working for that cash.."
Me: Haha yeah..wow! we sound like an old grumpy couple
Friend: Hey! I'm sure I'm younger than a lot of people here *looks around miserably 
Me: Well at least one of them  *points to a balding head in the distance
Friend: *groan

It's such a vague transition to the other side of the line. From the insecure rebellious dissatisfied teenage to the more stable and self-assuring young adulthood. Suffice to say, there never was a more varied journey than life. 

Getting back on the blogging track

Apologies for a rather long hiatus! Turns out leaving facebook drew me away from a lot of social media altogether. It still serves as a most delightful vacuum, but I figured it's time I reignite my love of writing and return to the blogging world. 

This morning I read my last post and realized how far back in time it was. I had yet to sit for my final university exams, or secure a job. I was confused, anxious, eager to get away from the student life and start earning. Now, a little over a year later, I'm sitting at my desk at work. 20 min to go before the lunch break gets over and it dawns on me how much life has changed. 

I'd say the transition from being a student to a full-time working adult was gratifying. Moving out of the dorm, renting out my own place, managing all the bills, finances, buying groceries, repairing a leaky faucet, moving on from a hundred first dates to a stable relationship..shit got real!

Let's see if I'm able to chronicle some of the best/worst moments from the past year and years to come, but rest assured, it feels great to be back!